Director: Ben Wheatley
Screenwriters: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Director of Photography: Laurie Rose
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson
Synopsis: Set in Boston during the late 1970s, “Free Fire” sees a gun deal in a deserted warehouse spiral out of control after erupting into a violent shootout between its opposing gang members.
Free Fire Review:
An exhausting ricochet comedy set to the beat of “Reservoir Dogs” but missing the hook of a good Tarantino script, “Free Fire” is Ben Wheatley’s ode to single location movies and it’s a film that appears simple in practice but one that’s incredibly hard to master as all hell breaks loose under a single roof where everyone experiences their fair share of cuts and bruises. Requiring a disproportionate amount of chaos to carry its close range shootout, “Free Fire” depends on disorientation to bolster its offbeat sense of humour as its cast of characters forget who they’re fighting for while audiences give up trying to pick a side.
Set around the interactions of a diverse group of actors, “Free Fire” draws attention to the craziness of its line-up as mismatched accents and conflicting IQs fuel most of the conflict along with the assistance of a hefty supply of firearms. It’s clear that Wheatley delights in handpicking the finest performers for his talent roster, playing an unbeatable hand with the inclusion of Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, and South African sweetheart Sharlto Copley who steals the show as the finicky arms dealer who complains about a small scratch only to later whimper his way through bullets, glass, and lighter fluid.
Although Wheatley clearly has his personal favourites in the squad, there’s no guarantee that any of them will make it out alive in a film so far removed from accepted notions of good and evil. In fact, as his disposable characters grow tired, gaining limps and losing blood, the director’s intentions turn rather sinister as he plays rough with the rats in his cage, allowing bodies to burn and faces to splatter. Even moments of rest come rather uncomfortably as Cillian Murphy crawls away from sprinklers only to discover an umbrella without a canopy attached to it. These final doleful moments are part of the film’s greater message about the futility of conflict but they feel jaded in a story defined by endless gunfire and petty violence, suggesting that perhaps “Free Fire” doesn’t quite know what it wants to be even though it’s a lot of fun.